Stephan Rabold/Showtime
November 22, 2015 at 11:40 PM EST

This was the episode we’d been waiting for — at least, those of us invested in Allison’s history — and it delivered. Allison may have seemed like a cold-blooded killer in the moments we discovered she was a double agent, but clearly, she’s not heartless; she’s simply ambitious. She also knows she’s trapped, and that one day Carrie will somehow find out the truth.

And, boy, is she worried about that happening. She meets again with Krupin, dismayed at how his men failed to get Carrie in Amsterdam. He’s reluctant to cause more bloodshed, telling her they “need to be smart now.” So, even though it’s been eight hours since Carrie contacted her, he urges to wait for Carrie’s instructions. So she does: While standing by for Carrie’s call back at the CIA headquarters, Allison meets with Dar to defend herself, saying she had no part in Saul’s disappearance. Dar’s skeptical of what happened in the hotel when Saul turned up the radio and turned on the faucets, but Allison plays the sleeping-with-Saul card: She lies to Dar, saying Saul only wanted to tell her he loved her and ask for her help. 

Under all this stress, Allison heads online and shops for bags while continuing to wait. Finally, Carrie calls and reveals that earlier that day, she had headed to a village east of Hamburg, where she managed to slip a note for Allison inside a prayer book in a church. Carrie’s anxious, repeatedly looking over her shoulder, and she even sounds shaky when she gets a call from Otto after telling Allison to head to the village. Otto, sneaky Otto, is wondering if the employee he’s planning to cut is okay. Carrie says she needs Numan’s help to crack the password-protected hard drive of the laptop she took from Amsterdam. When she asks Otto if he’d seen Jonas, he lies, because he’s either planning something or he’s protective of her feelings. (I’m leaning toward the former.)

But the show doesn’t dive much deeper in this hour over what’s really going on inside Otto’s head. Instead, it follows Allison as she makes her way to the village where Carrie dropped off the note. There, Krupin pays her a short visit, and while Allison seems a tad surprised at his appearance, she tells him her plan: She’ll meet Carrie at a cafe in the village and see what she knows. Krupin adds one more detail: He’ll have a sniper ready to kill Carrie if she indeed knows too much, and the signal Allison will use will be to light a cigarette.

Before we get to the meeting, however, there are flashbacks we see showing just how closely Carrie and Allison are connected. (The show rarely uses the flashback device; the last one I can think of is from season 1, with Brody. Hallucinations are used far more often.) The first one is from Carrie’s arrival in Baghdad back in 2005. She’s still blonde and blazer-ed, but check out that styled hair: She’s put it partially up! Oh, and her trusty messenger bag isn’t anywhere in sight. In other words, this younger, greener Carrie looks more idealistic; there’s almost a spring in her step as she walks into the Baghdad CIA station. Maybe the most jarring difference is how earnestly she looks at the wall of soldiers the CIA wants to bring home and at the picture of Brody hanging smack in the middle. That part of her story hasn’t happened yet. So much hasn’t happened to her yet:

Contrast that with Allison, who Carrie meets inside. This Allison’s slightly different in her looks, too — hello, bangs! — but her outlook is largely the same. She sounds wary and jaded, mostly about what’s going on in the war-torn country, and about her job itself. But she does that job well: When they run into Samir, the judge we saw calling Carrie last episode, Allison calmly introduces them and skates over Samir’s request for help in security at the Ministry of Justice. 

By the time they arrive in Allison’s dusty Baghdad office, young Carrie is ready to begin working for Operation Iraqi Freedom. She picks up on Allison’s less-than-enthusiastic demeanor, though, and asks her for the truth of what’s going on. Allison begins by offering some canned answers — everything’s fine, Carrie will learn plenty in the job — and then reveals just how bad the situation has gotten, with the body count increasing every day because of suicide bombers, death squads, and intel that gets them nowhere. “And we’re supposed to build a functioning society in the middle of that?” Allison asks, incredulous. “You can’t shove democracy down people’s throats.”

Carrie, trying to be helpful, asks Allison where she’ll be headed when she passes her job into Carrie’s capable hands. At that, Allison smiles. She’ll be spending time away from work, shopping to replace her wardrobe and relaxing for two weeks in St. Lucia in the West Indies. “There’s a little bar on the beach, Banana Joe’s,” Allison says, smiling to herself. “Best daiquiris on the planet. And the men are gorgeous.” The camera pans to Carrie, who watches the worldly Allison intently. 

And that, Homeland fans, isn’t all Carrie and Allison went through years and years ago…

NEXT: Allison gambled on a (literally) valuable asset

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